Presence

If you have been following this blog in recent months you might have noticed a small sub-current of thought surfacing now and then – it is that of ‘presence’ not of ‘power’. I am far from a developed position, but here goes for a little re-surfacing.

I have been very impacted and continue to be by the inbreaking of God with power, so the ‘healing revival’ of 1948-58 (with all its flaws) has been of interest, the prophetic movement(s) of more recent decades and the like have also been a shaping influence on me. I am very grateful for the many testimonies of healing I carry… power. And power is part of the Gospel story. I am reading in Hebrews at the moment:

[W]hile God added his testimony by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit, distributed according to his will.

Signs, wonders and miracles… ‘The works I do you will do…’ in John’s Gospel where ‘works’ seems to be used consistently of the miraculous. Globally there remains a gap and also therefore a wonderful expectation, and into the gap appears some amazing testimonies.

A recent connection of mine wrote me:

The charismatic movement has framed gifts/charisms/mighty works as primarily about displays of superior power which invite/demand allegiance.

Can we move beyond that… without the loss of the miraculous? This is part of the season we are in. I am also aware that the wheels are coming off some flag-ship movements, thus indicating that the foundations were inadequate, but as always we will have baby and bath water scenarios. What a time to be living in and I am asking a BIG question as to what foundations are required now for the next season.

Dreams have shaped my thinking and also a recent experience while taking a Zoom class into a prophetic school in Brazil. I was asked to speak about ‘false prophecy / false prophets’, and over years I have had so many experiences there of confronting that manifestation – and where able to break it there have been literally a thousand or more testimonies of physical healing. At the end of the Zoom session I was asked as to how we should respond to a situation that they had recently experienced of a ‘prophet’ coming through who would give Social Security numbers to the person they were prophesying over as a means of affirming that they were indeed speaking God’s word. The ‘messages’ given after the affirming knowledge were totally controlling and manipulative. I said I don’t care about the preceding release of knowledge (the Social Security numbers) the words have to be rejected.

Can God give Social Security numbers / phone numbers / names and addresses – for sure. Does he do that – I would say ‘yes’. But… yes there is a ‘but’. Carl Wills (I was on Zoom to him this morning) says and they wanted to blindfold Jesus and ask him to prophesy as to who hit him. That is an impressive show.

I like Mr. Elisha (first name or surname?). He had intimate knowledge of what was taking place, much to the annoyance of the king of Aram, who wanted to know who was betraying their secrets. He was told

No one, my lord king. It is Elisha, the prophet in Israel, who tells the king of Israel the words that you speak in your bedchamber (2 Kings 6:12).

The same Elisha was also honest enough to say he was clueless about the distress a Shunammite woman was under:

Let her alone, for she is in bitter distress; the Lord has hidden it from me and has not told me (2 Kings 4:27)

The gift of intelligent guessing would have looked more impressive than that! But the gift of the true prophetic is not about looking impressive. Social Security numbers sound way impressive.

Focus on (superior) power… be careful it can be very seductive. And in a seductive atmosphere seductions take place. Hence I am thinking presence as being the environment. On prophecy Paul says that the testimony should be, ‘God is really among you’. Present. God (in the body of Jesus) became present – ‘among / with us’. At the finale ‘God will dwell with them’ – presence. When present even shadows can have an effect as was discovered in Jerusalem as Peter walked past.

The platform has become the place where the presence is mediated – the worship leader ‘brings’ the presence of God, the prophet, the preacher… and so it goes on.

But the wind? Well…

The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.

You don’t know… hiddenness and visibility together. And ‘the wind’ is not an analogy for the Holy Spirit but for those ‘born again’. Platform giving way to the wind. [Perhaps that would straighten out the activity and hopes for evangelical movements who want to control politics.]

So a little resurfacing. There are ‘power’ words in Scripture… but I suspect that true non-manipulative power is to come through being truly, fully present. And to be fully present? That is the journey.

An intense season

Yesterday I put out one of our ‘irregular newsletters’ to bring those interested more up to date with where we are at and what we are up to. Inevitably there were some perspectives in there that are personal viewpoints on the wider context, the wider context of both the ‘church’ and the world. Any such viewpoints are ‘in part’, never the whole picture.

It is always possible to say ‘it is a new day’ as the Lord makes all things new on a VERY regular basis, but it is also easy to assume that a new day will give us what we were longing for yesterday. Perhaps it is a new day, but I consider it might be better to look at the season that is here. Seasons can be broken down into smaller units, but it appears to me that there is a prolonged season here currently, one that probably spans 20 years, from 2020 to 2040. 2020, helpfully suggested that it would be a year of sight, and sight is not seen by all for Jesus said ‘let those who have eyes see’. We can proclaim sight and be accurate about that, but then fail to see it. We can have a mouth but not have eyes. (Now I am in danger of assuming I have sight,as Jesus advised the Pharisees that it might be better not to claim to have sight – otherwise ‘our guilt remains’…)

2020 was indeed a year of great sight… the pandemic changed so much and was globally visible.

Now the intensity is ramping up, with hierarchical leadership being chopped down. Many years ago I heard Tom Marshall say that when truth flows in one direction and is responded to with honour and respect flowing in the opposite direction we have a problem. The labelling of any challenging perspective as ‘fake news’ is the response we have seen… what is sown by the body is reaped beyond. There is a huge move toward authoritarian leadership in many so-called democratic scenarios… and after all Rome moved from a sort-of democratically republic to an Imperial context. Many antiChrists have come said one much wiser than I numerous centuries ago, those who set themselves as an authority to be a substitute for Christ (anti: in the sense of replacing) pave the way for what is set in opposition to (anti: in the sense of opposing). 1 John 2 neither affirms nor denies an antiChrist (‘you have heard that antiChrist is coming’) in the sense that popular eschatology wants to teach it, and I take the same position, that of agnostic… but I want to be alert to the trajectory. Unchecked we are on a trajectory of an antiChrist, whether global or personal to my situation.

The trajectory has to be arrested, hence I see 18 months of trauma with self-appointed headship and self-affirming tellers of truth experiencing great pressure and under pressure there are leaks and exposures.

The last two nights have not been great nights of sleep as I have wrestled with the sense of whole movements being shaken top to bottom. Not everything to be exposed will be accurate, nor will the attempt to cover everything be successful.

The far east will become an ever more present reality in the world, and the geography from where many re-alignments will take place. I have long held the view that Jesus dies in Jerusalem for no prophet could die outside of Jerusalem (Lk. 13:33) for religion in whatever form is opposed to the prophetic; Jesus’ death puts an end to that necessity, and launched Paul as one who had to go to the centre that flows from Jerusalem – to Rome. Religion to the powers that shape the oikoumene / the empire. I am grateful to those who focused on ‘rolling up the Roman road’ in the early 2000s and deeply incarnated in the (literal) walk to Rome arriving there on 21st December 2005 (thanks Steve Lowton and companions). However, in these past months I have been contemplating that Scripture covers those two geographies and proclaims that the gospel had been proclaimed throughout the whole oikoumene / world. But… the far east? Maybe we have both become accustomed to the powers that rule over the west, perhaps we have both accommodated them and resisted them… but the powers manifesting in the far east?

These next years will force us to consider the powers that have to be ‘exorcised’ there, and of course they are already beginning to confuse us as they have been busily eating the west, thus strengthening themselves through hiding behind what we consider we already know. As cyclical time (east) meets linear time (west) we can be in danger of being losing sight of the times and seasons but can also be provoked to gain sight of a longer horizon… the day gets longer post December 21.

If we allow the Lord of the harvest to do the sowing, and we resist the temptation to pull up what we think are weeds… we might just have a wonderful set of years, a ‘new’ season that goes beyond Scripture on the trajectory to harvest… beyond Scripture in the sense of catapulted forward from the last word in the book that records Paul’s presence and gospel was in Rome… akolutos – unhindered.

Disputed islands

What is coming in 2024… well we see in part, and are tainted by our own biases and desires. If we focus on the ‘church’ and cannot see beyond that we might well come up with something along the lines of ‘the year of breakthrough’… I am of course convinced we have to see beyond those four walls, and in my preference for the term ‘body of Christ’ I consider that the wider world is our responsibility – of course I want to avoid over-responsibility and to hold on to an ability to laugh. It is not easy to be truly responsible at a level that is real and can make a wider difference if one loses the ability to laugh.

I made a 15 minute video earlier this month on what I see at the core for 2024:

In it (don’t you love the way that the opening frame makes one look highly intelligent with mouth open!! I know I can change it but I need to be able to laugh, after all I once tried to spell ‘professionalism’ but realised it was a step to far)… anyway in it I say that I see 2024 being a major pivotal year and that at a global level we will either have everything in place by the end of the year as the ‘seeds’ for global war or we can see a shift toward a genuine different kind of future. [Whether one belives the future is fixed or not our prayer has to be ‘on earth as in heaven’ and I think any kind of passivity that comes from ‘it has all been prophesied’ is illegitimate… and the warning to beware of those who say ‘peace, peace’ makes total sense in the Roman first century context of the Pax Romana.]

In the video I say that actual war between China and Taiwan will be held back this year, but that with a focus shifting to the far east there will be actual conflict over ‘disputed islands’. Yesterday I came across this in the BBC website on North Korea and potential ocnflict with South Korea:

This could even be in the form of shelling or attempted occupation of contested islands west of the Korean peninsula (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-68052515).

I don’t quote this to prove I am right – I would rather be wrong and the global scene moves in a positive direction, but quote it as I also suggested that at a personal level ‘disputed islands’ (or as the article calls them ‘contested islands’ will be threatened). This follows a focus in the latter half of last year into the fairly extensive biblical material on boundaries. So leaving the global aside, the personal is important at two levels – important for us and also if we can shift things at a personal level it automatically gives a leverage into the global beyond us.

This post then is simply an encouragement to not stop at ‘silver and gold I do not have’ but to also go on to ‘but what I have / been entrusted with’. Contested! Maybe also some prayer that takes us deeper than simply declaring what is ‘ours’ to prepare me to be able to better steward what is mine within the boundaries that have been set for me.

Where to from here?

That title could mean almost anything, so let’s make it mean something – where to: the kingdom coming in fullness or at least to some level that could be considered tangible; from here: where we are now!!! Why not? I am currently working on ‘eschatology’ with my current focus on the ‘wars and rumours of wars’ passage (Matt. 24 and parallels) with a video recording imminent and some notes, all suggesting we should NOT look for a fulfilment beyond the generation alive at the time Jesus spoke those words (culminating in the Jewish War of 66-70AD). (Same perspective on the man of lawlessness that Paul spoke of.) So no signs given to us to enable us to form a ‘prophetic time-line’ there. And then add my leaning toward the future is open, and stepping back from my eschatology series we really have a wide open space to explore… and (critically for me) no time for panic, anxiety, submision to the inevitable as we focus on ‘let your kingdom come’ where to from here? We might speculate a lot about the future, but the ‘disciples prayer’ remains a sure and certain guide to us.

I consider that we have a critical window of time, another 15 – 17 years to adapt to the changing world, to reverse what can be reversed, to learn to live in a planet different to the one that people of my era entered, and to set some healthy paths beyond that. Of course there could well be a parousia before that but rather than be passive I think we should engage with what is here and leave any timing to the Lord.

A big question is of course the unity of the body of Christ, and I appreciate those whose passion is for ecumenism and the visible unity (unifaction of the church?), I am simply of the persuasion that the organic unity of heart, of pulling together (a movement with great diversity but pulling for our world’s future) is where we start and then let’s see where that might lead.

I am asking – though no business of mine – for another 300, 400, or 500 years – not for me personally(!!) but for the existence of our planet. I am asking for that so that we (by we I mean those that follow in our faith footsteps) might have some opportunity to shape the future and to significantly contribute to the age to come. If we have that kind of time-frame we can optimistically sow in our day for tomorrow. As an author of a book (originally) entitled ‘Sowing seeds for revival’ I have to confess that when written -25 years ago my vision was of somethng coming to the Western world that would look essentially like what was seen in Wales in 1904, or in more recent days in nations such as Argentina. I also meant ‘revival’ in the sense of the body of Christ being revived so that ‘what Jesus began to do and to teach’ would manifest again… I now would view things either differently or in a more developed way. Revival in the Wales / Argentina sense I would more see as placing the church on a life-support machine but not as restoring us to a full lease of life. Life but not leading to full recuperation to enter the world around us, to be the ‘soul’ of the world or the ‘salt of the earth’ (to quote Diognetus and Jesus).

If we think beyond ‘deconstruction’ as being how things are structured falling apart but press it more into the deconstructing of how we think I consider that there is a healthy deconstruction taking place. It can be disconcerting. For example I do not see ‘salvation’ in the classic evangelical sense being the centre of Paul’s gospel, though ‘salvation’ in that classic sense nuanced in understanding remains within Paul’s gospel. It seems the challenge is how do we move without simply throwing out all previous understanding. Holding tensions, living with unasnswered questions will remain.

Simplicity of faith in Jesus, innocence even… ‘a sincere and pure devotion to Christ’ (2 Cor. 11:3) with less knowledge, but greater centring on Jesus is part of our journey. Jesus can undo us and can lead us on a venture.

Paul’s gospel was essentially a proclamation with incredible implications. That proclamation was that Jesus was raised from the dead and was declared as ‘Lord of all’. The implication was that ‘new creation’ was now present. Let the struggle begin! Old creation with its default to fallenness or new creation with a direction of ‘no more tears’. Which way will it go?

I think Paul was so impacted by Jesus, from Damascus onwards, that he seemed to think this world could be transformed. Maybe he had a time expectation attached to his hope, perhaps not. Whatever his expectation was he carried sufficient hope that he – amidst opposition – proclaimed a future within the context of a well-ordered world that was at that time shaping the future.

If the body of Christ (I avoid the use of the term ‘church’ so that we do not think immediately into the centre expressed in a building and on a certain day) was anointed as the open door between heaven and earth we should not be surprised that there is a lot of activity and change taking place at the level of that body. If we are to see a shift in our world, hierarchy, patriarchy, competition, seeking titles will have to be dealt with there. (Not to mention wrong sexual activity, or the adjustment for those that can offer others a help toward ‘fame and fortune’ within the church context! Yes, I have come across exactly that.)

I am not without hope, rather I am full of hope, and of course I have to seek to understand the world around and what I perceive God is doing. I might be wrong in my perceptions but I have to live by my convictions. The loss of certain things, essentially because of the unseating of christendom can be mourned over or we can press through that. I understand the sadness with the demise of so-called Judeo-Christian values but I consider that the NT pushes us beyond those so that we are not shaped primarily from the past but from the future – perhaps what we might term eschatlogical values. I suspect that we have more demise to come so that our dependence is on heaven not on our own past achievements.

We are entering critical times; since putting out my video on 2024 where I suggest that by the end of 24 we will either have the pieces in place for global conflict or we will have pivoted the other side to laying ground for genuine peace I have observed President Xi’s (China) new years speech and then the subsequent election of the new president for Taiwan… all the signs are of the tension and very real threat of war between China and Taiwan coming into view. In that video I said ‘no war between China and Taiwan’; the provocation is can we hold that back – and by ‘we’ I mean those who have some level of burden about this. I believe we can hold that back, and in reality I believe we must in this pivotal year. What a year lies ahead.

I am deeply impressed by the shift for so many people where they are finding a home in a specific expression of the Christian faith – one day when I mature I will be able to be less preoccupied with everything going on in my head and be able to rest and genuinely meditate… until then!! However, I still have at my core the transformation of this world. I have visited in the past months places where I began 25 years ago on ‘sowing seeds for revival’. That has been so healthy for me, not to celebrate a past but to be strengthened for the next 500 years.

Into this a new prophetic movement that goes beyond ‘Christians will be blessed with a new open heaven, do not fear the traumas in the world, Jesus is coming’ to ‘there is an open heaven since the cross, you stand between heaven and earth, go plant the apple tree for Jesus is coming whether today or tomorrow, so proclaim to one and all the hope that is within you’. Now that prophetic movement will be so diverse; the prophethood of all believers. ‘The Spirit will be poured out… and they shall prophesy.’

2024: a couple of perspectives

So much can be said about every year… this one I see as a major pivotal year. Naturally, with a huge percentage of the population being located in countries that are ‘democratically’ electing a government sets the scene for a ‘before’ and ‘after’ possibility. I focus on two areas: the global conflicts that will come in the far east over islands, mirroring the contention over our personal disputed areas; and on a people movement – not from ‘there’ to us but a major level of we have to travel. The results will not be nice and tidy. I posted on the nature of Joppa, Simon and the tanner – a paradigm for us.

A year also for toxicity to be emitted, the worst form of toxicity being religion, and when such elements as the cross and Scritpure are colonised to serve religion we have something very toxic in the making.

I am optimistic – still pressing in to hold back nuclear and chemical weaponry in the Ukraine setting… hopeful that surely we can see the Israel / Gaza conflict restricted, and with a focus on the far east to see the threat of China invading Taiwan fall to the ground. If pivotal we will see by the end of the year the elements in place for war on a global scale or we push through to dialogue, peace that is not surface but very deep. I want to see the latter of course.

The people movement is challenging. The next move of God… God is looking for the next move of people and for those of us who carry the name of Jesus to connect with it.

This time of year

As we move quickly toward the last month of the year I normally have a focus toward what does the soon-to-come year have to bring. Assuming I can I will post some perspectives at some point, and I hope I can expand on the following also, though acknowledge we either do not see, see inaccurately or simply in part. Ah well – I assume we see enough to enable us to be stronger in faith than before. And before I write what follows, there is no ‘magic’ turning of a page on the stroke of midnight as one year ends and another begins, but I am also convinced that the nature of God is incarnational, s/he comes to live in our world and so communicates within our time frames.

Big picture: we all have a tension of living one day at a time – this is my last experience of being alive within the date we term 28th November, 2023… we live this day. Tomorrow comes and I will either be here to experience it or not… and the tension is that (again not a ‘magic’ date) we live out this phase in the context of the next 16+ years, to 2040. Within this time-frame we should anticipate what (from our perspective) will be a new move of God… however!

We are waiting for a ‘move of God’, but God is waiting for a ‘move of humanity’.

There will be a number of prophecies coming forth that will be proclaiming the great and final outpouring of the Spirit is about to break, and there will be what we can term ‘outbreakings of the Spirit’ in numerous places, but they will not be the centre of activity.

For those of us (like me) who grew up inside the four walls, and then add to that with a revival down the road (Lewis) talked about, having walked many miles of the land of Wales, held gatherings inside Loughour Chapel, been deeply impacted through the Pentecostal church, the charismatic and Toronto… blah blah blah… any concept of God moving is quickly pulled into a context that then shapes expectation, hence I think I add, for my sake, a health warning – not as you expect, Martin.

So back to a move of humanity. Messy. It ties a little bit to the previous post – where two or three gather together there is humanity in the midst. For us to ‘see’ this move we will have to make some adjustments away from a them / us mentality, and if we wish to participate within it sight will be necessary. What will it look like? Here I can only give a few indications:

Opposites meeting where defences go down and old hostilities are resolved. (Leaving us(??) with the question but where is Jesus in this?).

Some very key land resolutions – 2024 is a pivotal year when we can see a major shift with regard to literal warfare – and this could pivot also in a negative direction. (I think the passivity over Israel by Christians, or worse the ‘need to destroy the enemy’ is causing enormous problems to seeing wider resolutions.) ‘Occupation’ is the claim on both sides. Words such as stewardship, joint-participation, sharing should be the kind of words and concepts, for the WHOLE EARTH is the Lord’s and the gracious choice was to share it with us.

I personally think enough has been done (with more yet to be done) to create a shape for an outpouring of the Spirit among humanity. This has always been the desire of heaven. God waiting (impatiently?) for the fullness of times in order for the Incarnation to be released. Among us / with us. Not all responded to the Messiah then, but into conflict over land, over Imperial rule Jesus came. This is our context now – increasing conflicts over land / boundaries, changing of Imperial rule – and indeed a change of what (not simply where) Imperial rule is exercised.

I hope over this coming month I can expand on the above… And I hope even more that I can contribute to what is coming, or at least participate in it, and certainly I hope my expectations do not hinder it.

Sight… till we see

There are a number of Scriptures that provoke us to see and to hear what is there to be seen and heard, such as:

Do you have eyes and fail to see? Do you have ears and fail to hear? (Mk. 8:18).

In numerous settings, and maybe initially in the political and church setting, we have entered a phase of ‘wake up, open your eyes and ears, for it is now visible and audible’. It is not a time to cover over what is being uncovered, the weaknesses in the ‘babylonic’ nature of certain structure and institutions are there for anyone with sight to see. Let fall what should not be supported.

Today I was reminded that some 2 years ago I said to someone – leave before the trouble comes. If not they will be drawn into a ‘you can really help and even bring reconciliation’ endless cycle that goes nowhere. Tempting? Maybe for some the flattery and profile might pull them in, but the outcome for all is to be trapped. There are cover ups in many of the areas where we see politics being exposed – maybe I can refer to the COVID inquiry in the UK – but we can easily add trials of former leaders, the corruption that lies behind pleas of ‘we did not know’ when certain attacks took place; add to those aspects of current church investigations and I suggest there is a lot that is visible – can what is visible be seen?

The issues are not so much to do with personal failings, sad as those things are. It is the whole structure that feeds of a power dynamic where in a ‘dangerous’ world there are a few who can expound how dangerous the world is but they can assure us who are fear-oriented that we simply need to go along with them and we will be safe!

The world is not always a safe place, but I have discovered that the words and actions of those who claim the name of Jesus can be far more dangerous than any danger that is present in the ‘unsafe’ world.

Uncovering of what those with power wanted to keep covered is here. Don’t prop it up, let sight come so that more can see and hear. In a previous decade I realised that a backing away at this point of time into a naive and repetitive response of God is in control reversed what was being uncovered. Now what I believe is possible is for sight to come that will see not just what is becoming visible but to something beyond, to the realm of what can be: ‘I saw a new heaven and a new earth’. That is what I want to see. It comes first with seeing what can be seen when the uncovering takes place, then sight, then sight. Sight in two phases – seeing something that grips us, then seeing it around us. Bring it on through what is being brought before our very eyes now.

Borders & Boundaries

A Synopsis

Here are some headline notes that outline my thoughts on boundaries / borders. On the macro scale related to ‘peoples’ the kairos times and the boundaries are connected: rather than take a ‘there is no revelation of God in other cultures (religions?)’ Paul seems to have a positive view of God in relationship to humanity, for God ‘gives to all mortals life and breath and all things’ (Acts 17:25); all of humanity are related as ‘offspring of God’ (v.29) hence all war (even ‘just’ war) is simply a version of civil war, intra-familiar war.

If ‘God-set’ boundaries are in place there are kairos opportunities to perhaps find God. If we insist that the only way to God is the ‘Christian’ way we are on the path of bringing faith in Jesus down to the level of another, but probably superior religion. Jesus is the way to know, and to know intimately, who this God is. The Jesus path is not a path to bring about a knowledge of God but to live within the conscious embrace of the God who made the world and all that is in it (v.24).

A major (and simple) way of obscuring God is to establish boundaries that are not those that are ‘God-set’. Hence wars, carving up whole aspects of lands and imposing boundaries that are not ‘natural’ but dictated to by imperial / colonial benefits and the like work against the finding of God.

Boundaries are groaning at this time, and alongside that are attempts to strengthen old boundaries (I appreciate that ‘securing our borders’ is a complex issue, but always there is a third way in God – a redemptive path). I anticipate that the next 6 years – the remainder of this decade will be filled with border conflicts and also some border resolutions.

Dropping down to the personal level: boundaries are vital. Internal boundaries where we do not allow ‘trespassers’ to encroach – a ‘no-one takes my life from me’ stance. That has to be matched by a ‘but I lay my life down’ response.

An establishment of internal boundaries then allows us to determine ‘our field / fields’. This is very much Pauline language – my field extends as far as you. He knew where he was to work and carried a responsibility for that; it was a work of enabling others to find their field so that he could move on and not crowd out the space. We will not operate at that level, but nevertheless we can determine what we carry responsibility for. As we do that we will create / hold space where there is a freedom for people to find God and not have their lives pressed in on by oppressive powers. I have seen where all-but daily blazing rows in homes dial right down so that after a few months such rows become rare.

Borders… so important; within them there is an inheritance; moving boundary markers comes with a warning… and maybe one final thought – we do not naively go beyond our boundaries. There are ‘powers’ that were defeated at the cross and made an open show of… this does not mean we spend out lives confronting them. They are to be confronted – but clarity that they are within our ‘field’ needs to be our conviction. A lot of declaring will not shift them, but will lead to something very uncomfortable or something worse for us.

God works at all levels – internally we will always be working on our boundaries, so it is not sort that out then the ‘next’ level… Each and every level, and ones I am not aware of, will be the focus throughout.

Establishing Boundaries & Borders

For some six months or so I have been focused on borders / markers. Personal boundaries are vital and we are to forgive those who ‘trespass’ across our boundaries; within the boundaries that God sets for us we have an inheritance; we can go beyond our boundaries and we will find ourselves in difficulties. Personal / internal boundaries are vital for if they are established in a greater way we can anticipate what ‘God does in us s/he will do through us’.

In this video I seek to push into boundaries that are beyond the personal. At this time there is a major groaning in the boundaries, and I consider that there needs to be the re-establishment of God-set boundaries. An enemy strategy is to set boundaries that are not God-boundaries. The key Scripture for me:

From one ancestor he made all peoples to inhabit the whole earth, and he allotted the times of their existence and the boundaries of the places where they would live, so that they would search for God and perhaps fumble about for him and find him—though indeed he is not far from each one of us (Acts 17:26,27).

Below is a transcript – pretty close to what I said!!

In this short video I want to talk a little bit about boundaries and borders.

Something that has been on my heart and mind over the last, six months or so is that we are coming into a season – we’ve always been there of course – but we’re coming into a season where borders and boundaries are going to be challenged and need to be reestablished. Scripture is full of talk about boundaries and borders. You can go back to the inheritance of the 12 tribes and you have from this territory to that one, etc. You could even talk from Deuteronomy about the angels who come and who were numbered in order to shepherd the nations so there are borders there.

I want to focus on borders at that kind of level in a moment but there’s a lot in scripture about personal boundaries. I love it when Jesus said that He laid down His life for us. That’s why we have life in God today. But He also said nobody can take His life from Him. He knew where His borders were. He knew where the boundaries were. They were not trampled over. He laid down His life and as I understand it, that’s at the origin of things like: “Forgive us our trespasses where we trespass over somebody else’s boundaries or borders where we should not travel.” “Forgive us as we forgive those who trespass against us – who cross our boundaries. So personal boundaries are absolutely vital and I think there has to be kind of a parallel movement in where we are.

For example, of Martin learning his personal boundaries and not overstepping them and not going into other territory. For example, not going into territory beyond where he’s anointed or territory beyond where he’s responsible, and not allowing anyone else to trample over his boundaries but he’s establishing them.

If I can establish internal boundaries then I’m sure that I can be used by God to help establish other boundaries. Now the scripture that really has been of interest to me in this last while is Acts 17:26 and onwards. “From one ancestor He made all peoples to inhabit the whole earth.” That’s one of the reasons why all war is ultimately “civil war”. It’s not simply “nation against nation.” We are all descended from one ancestor. It is a “family affair.” And that’s why all war ultimately has to be ended.

Going on: “He made all peoples inhabit the whole earth and He allotted the times of their existence and the boundaries (or borders) of the places where they would live.” The “times” of their existence is the Greek word “Kairos” so there’s something here about an opportunity. Borders for people are to give an opportunity. Opportunity for what? So that “they would search for God and perhaps fumble about for Him and find Him though He indeed is not far from each one of us. For in him we live and move and have our being. As even some of your own poets have said. For we too are His offspring.” We’re all children of God by creation. Yes, we have to come into redemption to find that real home in God as Father, but there’s this place where boundaries that are established – that God establishes – are places within which God can be found. Hence one of the areas of major attack is boundaries.

If the enemy can establish boundaries that are not God boundaries, then he absolutely removes that possibility of people “stumbling and finding God” or at least making God obscure to them. God wants to reveal His own life, His own personality and His own being to people. Ultimately, of course, that revelation is through Jesus at the Cross, but within God’s set boundaries that are a place for people to seek after, stumble, fumble along, BUT find God. Hence, I do believe what we’re seeing at the moment is a real “groaning” in the areas of boundaries.

Two illustrations in recent days (and these will be within a UK context):

· The sycamore tree on the old Hadrian Wall cut down (they don’t know quite how it happened) a landmark marking that boundary. In this time there’s a groaning at that boundary.

· At the same time the felling of an old yew tree in the area where the Battle of Hastings took place.

So, one boundary, the English-Scottish border defined by the Romans, and another, a marker where the Norman Invasion took place – issues of history – trees that have stood there marked time. That yew tree was a thousand years, probably plus, old, and perhaps originally saw that conflict and establishment of the Norman Conquest. So we see simply at an illustrative level there is a provocation with regard to boundaries.

The Ukraine boundaries and the Israel and the Gaza Strip boundaries – they’re under attack and they’re seeking to be reestablished. It tells me something. Even my homeland of Orkney, positing “could we leave Scotland” and maybe join as part of a Scandinavian country, Norway for example. There’s a groaning going on, and I think this is where somehow, we need to be involved now, maybe not the macro level but I think what we need to be involved in is saying, “God establish boundaries in me. Help me live within them.” Because whatever God does in us is what He will do through us so that we can establish boundaries.

I think one of the mistakes we make as believers is to get caught quickly into a political area: “Should there be independence for this country?” “Should a Brexit happen or not happen?” The real issue is the politics need to follow and serve the boundaries that are being set spiritually.

So where am I going with this?

I’d like to suggest that in this season God wants to really hone in on us personally – that’s Number One – with regard to our boundaries:

· that they cannot be crossed

· that we know where they are

· we know who we are

· that we begin to establish the boundaries that God has given us and defend them.

Because within those boundaries the psalmist says, “I have an inheritance.” They’ve “fallen in good places”, “beautiful situation” and inside that, there I have an inheritance.

I believe also in our geographies or among our people group or where we feel called that we begin, in the spirit, to establish boundaries. “This is in.” “This is out.” That, I think, actually to be honest with you, is the origin of the “binding and loosing” scriptures. It’s a Jewish idiom, or a way of speaking that the rabbis used, which was, what you bind is what you did not allow, and what you released is what you allowed. This is what is allowed within our jurisdiction (the community of God), this is what was not allowed. That’s the origins of binding and loosing, what you bind on Earth, what you loose on Earth, etc. It’s what is established there.

I want to encourage you, in a season when boundaries are being set – and we will see major, major, major shifts in political boundaries and alliances. I think if we can participate with God (think “Beyond The Four Walls” of Church, this is God’s world and everything in it) to begin to establish some boundaries, begin to ask God, “What is the boundary?”, and it might be incredibly small in our mind: it could be the boundary of a street where you live, or three or four houses. You know that’s one of the areas where I pray, where Gayle and I pray, is with regard to immediate neighbors, that within those boundaries because we live there, certain things can flourish and certain things cannot flourish.

But for some of you, it’s going to be wider and some of you are going to be “walking boundaries.” It might not be the boundary that is stated by politics it might be ancient boundaries some of which need to be reestablished some of which really need to be uprooted and changed. So, it’s not about finding political community boundaries, things set by a local council, local government or a national government or European government or whatever. It might or might not be that but it’s what are the boundaries that God is giving. Because if we can really see in the spirit, boundaries established, what we will find is, angels appear at boundary areas. That’s where Jacob met the angels. As he left one territory to enter another, he met angels ascending and descending at that point. Heaven and Earth were touching there.

And if we can just begin to establish boundaries, and many of them will overlap with what other people are doing, I do believe we’re going to begin to see a situation whereby people understand, “this is a Kairos moment.” The boundaries have been set by God, not by demonic forces, not simply by politics, not by big business, but they’ve been set by God. Something that both might include nations, transcend nations, be smaller than nations, be bigger than Nations. Boundaries that God has set and within it, yeah maybe fumbling along, maybe stumbling, but in order that they might find God. That is the Kairos moment I believe we’re coming into. And I think one of the things that we’re called to do in this season is to set boundaries that are “God boundaries”.

So, in closing, think about your own internal boundaries, where they’ve been crossed. Forgive us where we’ve crossed boundaries of others. Help us establish our own boundaries as we forgive those who have crossed boundaries and hemmed us in. And also, to be aware not to overstretch. There are areas of anointing that we have and there are areas, to be honest, where we’re not anointed or gifted, but have character and have been trained in order to cross over. But there are boundaries, beyond ourselves, that I believe God wants to give us in order that we can establish boundaries for others. This, I believe, is one of the mandates that God is giving us over these next, I would suggest, six years, that God is giving to us to begin to establish. if we can do that, I do expect that we can see, where boundaries are being threatened, as we see in issues of war, we can see peace come to those. Reconciliation at the at the crossing points. And we can see something reversed of the horrendous things that we’re witnessing at this time.

So, I commit this to you I submit it to you and if it resonates, go back to scripture see what you see there and let’s journey forward together.

The East rising

Before I start this post I recommend reading the comment by Anne to my last post… I was deeply struck by her statement that we are living on a new planet NOW. I am working on updating my material on eschatology so that by the end of next year I hope to complete a set of videos and notes and wonder, at one level, how informed perspectives such as she brings fits with it all – for the hope of Scripture is not that we escape from here and all eschatology (if it is at any level resonating with Scripture) calls out with a question – how then in the light of that understanding will you now live?

At so many levels our world is changing, and this is indeed a challenge to eschatology. Biblical language that seems to speak of an end marked by cosmic catastrophe (sun darkened, moon to blood, stars falling) was never understood to speak of the end of the world, but of the end of the world as it was known, of marking a shift from one world (order) to another.

I have a friend who was on his way to a gathering and pulled in to the service station to fill up the gas tank on his car. As he stood there he was sure he heard the voice of God – ‘today the world changes for ever’. He did not understand what that could mean; he reflected what he heard to those at the gathering. The question was – so what does that mean? what will take place? No answers, but later that day…

The date – September 11, 2001 – better known as 9-11.

I have for some 20+ years been saying there is a move from west to east and north to south… Who would have believed that North Korea could become a player in world events? Yet there he (Kim Jong Un) came to meet with Putin to work on a deal of supplying weapons. There is a shift taking place. On the global order of things the world is changing.

Hope is real, it is tangible… it does not come through burying our head in the sand and then speaking niceties. It is ‘the Babylonians are coming; the temple will not save us; we will be relocated; but if we can learn to live in the relocation God will be present where s/he has been formerly absent’. We can bring the message up to date, but the element of relocation (and the pre-relocation word ‘dislocation’) remains constant.

I sang back in the day ‘These are the days of Elijah…’ And we need that old Elijah approach, but I remember singing that some 25 years ago and hearing ‘These are the days of Amos…’ I suspect we now need to ‘sing’, ‘These are the days of Jeremiah…’ Not the most popular prophet but with a vision beyond his immediate horizon, and with a vision that called people to see Babylon as the land of fruitfulness. Now that is a vision of some scale.

The world is changing; old power centres are fading; new powers will come and go. As I still contemplate what I will write about borders / boundaries maybe I should at least drop the seed here that if we draw the boundary around ‘Jerusalem’ we might just see ‘armies surrounding the city’. Maybe we could abandon that city (whatever ‘that city’ means for you and me) and learn how to live in a new planet, with all the hostility that is there, but live there with the Prince of peace – I think it will be hard to pray for the peace of Babylon if we are not at peace.

Perspectives